Silex Systems, citing RET uncertainty, suspends plans for Mildura 100MW demo CPV plant

Plans for a first-of-its-kind, 100MW concentrated solar power plant in Mildura have been shelved, after the Australian Renewable Energy Agency agreed with the project’s developer to withdraw funding.

The plant, proposed by ASX listed Silex Systems, was to have showcased the Australian solar company’s unique “dense array” dish technology, after the successful development of a 1.5MW demonstration plant at the site.

Silex said in a statement on Monday that it and ARENA had “agreed to suspend” plans for the 100MW power station, and terminate the funding deed for $75 million of conditional support for the project from ARENA.

“Due to these circumstances, the $35 million in conditional funding from the Victorian Government under the Energy Technology Innovation Strategy Fund will also be terminated,” the company said.

The future of the project first came into doubt when Silex said in June that it would seek to sell or sell down its interests in its various solar projects, and instead concentrate on its laser uranium enrichment technology.

This is despite a decision by its major uranium technology partner, a GE-Hitachi joint venture – to put that project on ice as well.

“The decision was based on a number of factors, including low wholesale electricity prices and the uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Energy Target,” the statement said.

The company’s share price has plunged in recent months over concern about the future of its various technologies, as well as the future of ARENA.

Silex shares fell another 7 per cent to 78c on Monday.

Solar Systems, the solar subsidiary that Silex bought out of receivership several years ago, is currently “exploring alternatives” to further develop the Mildura site on a smaller scale.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said ARENA “remains open” to considering any new or revised project opportunities that are ready for testing and demonstration.

Top image via Silex

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson